c.1915 Lange-made Orpheum #2 5-String Banjo

This is a customer's instrument, in for a new head, fret level/dress, and setup. I also re-installed the original 5th peg and replaced one later hook with a 1920s replacement flathook that matched the rest of the originals. So -- now it's all-original (essentially) except for the head, bridge, and nut. I was hoping to install a Remo Renaissance 11 1/4" head but settled on a regular frosted-top Remo when I couldn't get one through my usual supplier.

And, yes, this is a gorgeous teens-era Orpheum #2 banjo, one of those "sought after gems" for the 5-string crowd, since they play and sound darn nice. This one has the arched tonering construction, fancy appointments, materials, and quality hardware associated with the model and in addition to that it's in really good shape. Because Lange didn't maintain records of their serial numbers, an approximate date is all I can specify for this fella.

Lovely pearl inlay at the headstock. The dark-colored veneer and fretboard are the typical dyed-pearwood sort seen on most Lange builds. The nut is a replacement done "before my time."

Lovely inlay on the neck as well. The center section is contrasting blue/green/pink pearl while the outside bits are white pearl. I was lucky enough to replace the modern 5th peg that was on this banjo when it came in with the original friction one that was in the case. The modern one had been installed a little too forcefully and as a result it seems there was damage to the gears inside, since it didn't function well at all. It also looked terrible on the banjo, too. This ivroid-knob friction peg looks way better.

It might not be obvious, but the board is actually bound in ebony.

Archtop, 11 1/4" rim. This has a wonderful sound for picking. It's nice and clear with strong fundamentals.

Maple, maple, and more maple all over.

See the amazing "strapping" of layers at the headstock? Really lovely. Ivoroid-button friction pegs.

So classy! The neck itself is a two-piece birdseye/flamed maple build.

...and of course the heel carving is spectacular.

Multiple laminations under the fretboard and also at the heel cap as well. The red detailing looks wonderful.

Nice heavy-duty Lange-style hardware. Check out how the tonering edge hovers over the top edge of the rim.

Here you can see the inner archtop ring which is in many ways simply a big plated hoop.

Wonderful inlaid strip on the rim bottom as well.

This came without neck brace shims, so I popped these in from my parts bin. I haven't trimmed their top edges yet because I was too excited to get photos up.

The birdseye veneer on the rim's outside is nice as well.

I'm surprised at how good the hardware looks.

Action is nice and fast -- 1/16" at the 12th fret with a 27 1/8" scale.

Elite tailpiece.


Linda said...

Lord! That's pretty!

Anonymous said...

that is what I want!